PETALING JAYA: The additional public holiday for Hari Raya Aidilfitri will result in millions of ringgit in losses or late penalties, says the head of a business group.
Small and Medium Enterprises Association (Samenta) chairman William Ng said that while employers generally encouraged their employees to enjoy the festivities, compulsory paid public holidays were “unnecessary”.
Ng said Malaysia is among the countries which have the most number of public holidays in the world, and in private discussions with investors, a common joke was that employers hoped Malaysia would not win football matches as it would likely mean another paid public holiday.
“It’s an unhealthy practice that must stop,” he told FMT.
“If certain festivities are important enough to warrant a public holiday, they can be planned months or years ahead, approved by the Cabinet, and communicated to the industry.”
He said businesses’ fulfilment of orders, contractual obligations, deliveries, and logistics were all dependent on their ability to plan well in advance.
Ng offered a hypothetical situation in which a restaurant had ordered perishable items to be delivered on what the owner thought was going to be a working day, but only to find out that it had been turned into a public holiday.
“With delivery services halted, those items could be wasted. Who should bear the costs in such a case? The restaurant owner, the supplier or the government?” he said.
SME Association of Malaysia secretary-general Chin Chee Seong echoed Ng’s comments, stating that more notice needed to be given when announcing public holidays.
“The number of public holidays in Malaysia is already high. If we continue (like this), it will begin to affect our revenue,” he said.
“We hope this isn’t something the government will practise again and again as it is not appropriate to do so at the last minute.”
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said the government would declare an additional public holiday next Monday if Aidilfitri falls on Friday (April 21).
However, if Aidilfitri falls on Saturday, the additional public holiday will be fixed on Friday, while the Raya public holiday falls on Monday.
On Tuesday, Mydin hypermarket managing director Ameer Ali Mydin said the additional public holiday would cost his business RM500,000.
In 2019, the Malaysian Employers Federation estimated that each public holiday in Malaysia costs the private sector nearly RM1 billion in lost productivity.